The Wire


Mica Levi collaborates with her sister Francesca on a new soundtrack project

The project, which also features Wrangler, is about making music for “the greatest films never made”

Mica and Francesca Levi and Wrangler (Stephen Mallinder, Benge and Phil Winter) are working on a new soundtrack project. Called The Unfilmables, it’s about making music for the greatest films never made. It will commission musicians and sound artists to create a soundtrack for a film that doesn’t exist. Wrangler will work on a fictional sci-fi flick The Tourist, while Micachu & The Shapes leader Levi and her video artist sister will be working on The Colour Of Chips, a film purportedly based on Sergei Parajanov’s The Colour Of Pomegranates, reinterpreted as a lost British classic set in the north of England. “We felt that British life being depicted in such a way has not yet existed. I was thinking of utilising the everyday rituals of modern urban life in the UK and using the tableaux technique deployed by Parajanov. I am always interested in the extraordinary in the ordinary,” says Francesca.

The resulting music and video will be performed in Manchester and Brighton in May, and London in June.

Hideo Ikeezumi 1949–2017

The founder of Japanese label PSF has died aged 67. Words by Alan Cummings

Japanese label and record shop owner Hideo Ikeezumi, founder of PSF Records, has died from complications from stomach cancer. He was 67 years old.

PSF was one of the first Japanese underground labels to create an international reputation. Borrowing its acronym from its first release, High Rise's 1984 album Psychedelic Speed Freaks, PSF documented and promoted the numerous rich seams of Tokyo underground music that had begun to appear in the 1970s. Artists across multiple genres, from psychedelic rock and acid folk to noise and free improvisation, were moving beyond imitation to create fascinating hybrid forms of their own.

Among the artists PSF introduced to the world were Fushitsusha, High Rise, White Heaven, Ghost, Shizuka and Masayoshi Urabe. The label documented the history of Japanese underground music too, releasing important 1970s recordings by guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi, saxophonist Kaoru Abe and bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa, as well as reissuing key early sides by Keiji Haino, Kazuki Tomokawa and Kousokuya. A handful of key non-Japanese artists, including Harry Bertoia, Charles Gayle, Borbetomagus and AMM also had PSF releases.

Hideo Ikeezumi was born in 1949 into a family of professional artists living in the Itabashi district of Tokyo. Fascinated by literature as a child, his musical obsession was first awakened by the triumvirate of bad boy enka singer and actor Akira Kobayashi, rough and scabrous Northern folk singer Kan Mikami and the aforementioned free jazz guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi. Once music sparked for him, he lost interest in studying and chose not to go to university. Instead he spent his time devouring music magazines and taping songs off Japan's first late night radio shows. In 1968, he started work as a buyer for Gobangai, a small chain of Tokyo record shops. The 1970s was a period of expansive growth for record stores in Japan, and Ikeezumi developed an implicit understanding what would sell, regardless of whether he liked it or not.

By the late 70s, Gobangai was carrying records by Japan's first wave of punk labels, but Ikeezumi had decided it was time to strike out on his own. He rented a small shop in the quiet suburb of Meidaimae. An ad for the opening of Modern Music appeared in Fool's Mate rock magazine in 1980, warning readers that the store carried everything "from Pere Ubu to Akira Kobayashi". The shop was a shrine to Ikeezumi's personal obsessions, and he only carried music that he loved, regardless of genre or obscurity. There were bins for free jazz and improvisation, psychedelic rock, contemporary composition, noise, acid folk, lachrymose Japanese enka and traditional rakugo comedy. Much of the stock was imported from the US or Europe, but he also carried any new Japanese releases that he thought worthwhile. When Keiji Haino's debut LP Watashi Dake? was released in 1981, he staggered the label's owner by ordering 50 copies.

The tiny shop with its counter piled high with records, cassettes and CDs became a gathering place, support network and information exchange for underground musicians. Members of Marble Sheep and White Heaven worked there, while others popped in to buy records, chat and drop off fliers for shows. It was an organic progression to setting up the label in 1984. The first releases were by High Rise and Fushitsusha, all of whom were shop customers. The label was followed in 1991 by an irregularly published magazine, called G-Modern. Worldwide changes in music retail led to the shop closing its doors in 2014, though the label continued, with its final releases appearing in 2015.

Ikeezumi will be remembered for the uncommon breadth and the uncompromising force of his personal vision of what music should be. He was always ready with an apposite and enthusiastic recommendation, and for me personally, his generosity, openness and well-honed ears will be sorely missed.

A series of PSF titles will be reissued soon by Black Editions, and a two CD tribute to Ikeezumi, containing unreleased tracks by PSF artists, is due for release by Disk Union/DIW on 24 May.

My Cat Is An Alien to open the Venice Biennale 2017

MCIAA brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio have been invited by Xavier Veilhan and Christian Marclay to activate Studio Venezia

The preview days of Venice Biennale 2017 will this year be opened by Turin duo My Cat Is An Alien. Invited by visual artist Xavier Veilhan and co-curator Christian Marclay to open Xavier Veilhan's Studio Venezia project for the French Pavilion, MCIAA will be working in situ from 10–12 May. The installation in question works as a sculpture-recording studio, an "immersive environment taking in the entire pavilion so as to alter the public's perception of space; a fusion of visual art and music, in the framework of the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College experiences", says Veilhan. MCIAA will have more than 100 instruments at their disposal when they open the event; and other artists such as Éliane Radigue and Nicolas Godin of Air will also be taking part during the exhibition’s seven month run, which for the public starts on 13 May.

Venice Biennale runs from 13 May–26 November.

Dylan Carlson and Kevin Martin collaborate on new Concrete Desert LP

Earth and The Bug have made what's been described as a “Los Angeles-set companion piece to London Zoo”.

Earth's Dylan Carlson and Kevin Martin aka The Bug are to release their new album collaboration next month. Called Concrete Desert, it was first conceived when Carlson and Martin started recording together during the making of The Bug's Angels And Devils LP, a release that featured Miss Red, Inga Copeland, Liz Harris and Warrior Queen, to name a few other collaborators.

But two tracks, “Boa” and “Cold”, never made it to that 2014 album – they “had developed a singular life of their own, outside of the identity of that album”, explained Martin. Instead they were released as a standalone EP.

This new LP is said to be inspired by JG Ballard and Los Angeles's “sordid, fragmented underbelly”. Indeed, it is described as a “Los Angeles-set companion piece” to The Bug's third album London Zoo.

“Dylan’s a master at amplifying the flavour of America,” states Martin, “but not the side we see in this Trump climate.” He goes on to enthuses the Earth leader captures the “best side of that dream, a utopian openess”.

Concrete Desert will be released on 24 March by Ninja Tune. It also features two tracks by Martin's longtime collaborator JK Flesh. You can listen to the album track “Snakes Vs Rats” below.

Clipping issue disturbing new video for "Back Up"

Anna Zlokovic’s clip features milk-addicted adult babies

US noise-rap trio Clipping have shared the unsettling new video for “Back Up” (from 2016’s Wriggle EP) featuring Antwon and Signor Benedick The Moor.

“Through the perspective of an unnamed film maker, we stumble upon an accidental and horrifying discovery,” explains director Anna Zlokovic. “What begins as a curious exploration of an abandoned warehouse quickly devolves into the uncovering and filming of an underground, cult-like society - one where adults have baby faces and milk is the drug of choice.”

The clip was shot at Los Angeles venue The Smell, famed as a hub for DIY groups such as No Age, Abe Vigoda and HEALTH. The club is now scheduled for demolition; regular visitors Clipping are among those currently campaigning to save it.

Clipping begin their North America tour this week. For dates and details visit their website

Pan's Bill Kouligas announces event series investigating gender identity and music

Featuring Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Honey Dijon, Terre Thaemlitz, and others, the series will run over three weekends in February in MoMAPS1, New York

Bill Kouligas of Pan records has organised a series of performances, talks, screenings and workshops set to investigate the relationship between gender nonconforming identities, technology and electronic music. Featuring Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Honey Dijon, Terre Thaemlitz aka DJ Sprinkles, Juliana Huxtable, Elysia Crampton, Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, Tavia Nyong'o, Code Liberation, Venus X and Dreamcrusher, the sessions are called Between 0 and 1: Remixing Gender, Technology, and Music will focus “on gender positions that reject and challenge a binary world view” whilst looking at the historical role that electronic music has played in creating alternative spaces that allow for a variety of identities.

Part one will take place on 12 February and focus on communities within New York City’s nightlife. Part two is on 19 February and will be based around a live performance of “Cantos I-IV” from Terre Thaemlitz’s multimedia sound work Soulnessless. Part three on 26 February will explore the ongoing relationship between electronic music and the dissolution of established gender constructs over the generations.

These events will take place on Sundays at the Museum Of Modern Art, New York. More information can be found via their website.

El Nicho's Eric Namour and Jorge Munguia co-edit new series of publications

New project aims to “bridge contemporary concerns within the broad creative contexts of writing, the visual and sound arts, critical theory/thinking, and philosophy.”

El Nicho festival in Mexico has started a new book series called Libretas. Drawing from sources that cover sound art, visual art, critical theory and philosophy, the project aims to open a “window onto processes and reflections from artists and curators”.

The first edition, Limitless Listening, is the result of Keith Rowe's residency in Mexico City during 2015, in which he conducted an interpretation of Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise, and features a conversation between Rowe and Inti Meza Villarino.

Future participants confirmed include Tarek Atoui, John Butcher and Diego Espinosa in an issue titled The Instrument As Artefact And The Challenge Of Composition; Abraham Cruzvillegas, Guillermo Santamarina and Gabriela Jauregui in Why Does Sound Matter?; and Andrea Lissoni, Jennifer Burris, Michelle Fidler in the fourth edition Music And Performance As Exhibition.

The series is available in Spanish and English with print copies limited to 500 and with a free digital edition. Libretas is a collaboration between El Nicho and Buró-Buró and supported by the Jumex Foundation and the Patronato de Arte Contemporáneo (PAC).

Modern composition supergroup Zeitkratzer take on Kraftwerk for latest reworking project

Reinhold Friedl's ensemble to release Performs Songs From The Albums Kraftwerk And Kraftwerk 2

Modern composition supergroup Zeitkratzer are releasing an album of reinterpretations of early Kraftwerk. Reinhold Friedl's ensemble, who in 2007 released a version of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, and in recent years have performed the music of Stockhausen and Cage and collaborated with Carsten Nicolai of Raster Noton, recorded their new album in Marseille. Performs Songs From The Albums Kraftwerk And Kraftwerk 2 is the first of two albums exploring the early recordings of the Dusseldorf group.

Kraftwerk's first two albums feature drums, guitar flute and violin, and are notably more rocking than their later electronic albums, but were ignored by the group in the 2009 reissue of their catalogue. “Kraftwerk promised for almost two decade to rerelease these first two records and never did,” complains Reinhold Friedl. “Zeitkratzer on the other hand were several times misunderstood as doing ‘covers’ although we almost never did. So this coincidence, Kraftwerk kind of hiding their early work, brought up the decision to work as a real cover band, because of historic necessity to make this early part of the Kraftwerk story accessible again!”

Zeitkratzer have become renowned for the reinterpretations of various electronic musics, and taking on Kraftwerk might seem like their stiffest challenge to date. But as Friedl notes, the German group's early works were more krautrock than Kling-Klang. “Beside the electronic keyboard there is not much synthesizer in these early works. And the keyboard sounds are mostly based on a harmonium effect. So we just used a real harmonium and the sound was brilliant! Much more compelling have been other electronic effects, like the acceleration of the master tape in one piece: as a live band you have then to play glissando up and accelerate the tempo at the same time. Very funny unusual exercise and experience."

Despite the disparity between Kraftwerk's early and later albums, Kraftwerk and Kraftwerk 2’s role in the group’s development is often ignored, perhaps in part because of their relative scarcity. "You can already see the later more minimalistic electronic approach,” Friedl argues. “Including their wonderful superficial lightness, combined with Krautrock improvisations (all those alto flute improvisations on looping grooves) with influences of contemporary music (listen to “Atem”, one of the most experimental piece they ever did!)"

Zeitkratzer have adapted the classical ensemble to respond to a wide range of music in recent years, from the extreme rock of Keiji Haino to the conceptual electronics of Terre Thaemlitz. Playing this music, did they start to feel like a krautock band? “Reminds me of the famous question of philosopher Susanne Langer,” responds Friedl. "Does a performer, who performs a Beethoven sonata, need to have exactly the same feelings as Beethoven, in the very moment, when he wrote down the music? For sure not. We started the project exactly the other way round: studying the different versions Kraftwerk themselves did from exactly the same pieces (you can find several live performances of them on YouTube) in very different tempos etc. Then we constructed our version by transcribing as exactly as possible the common content of those different versions. And I hope we found even some aspects in this music, that Kraftwerk themselves did not realize when they played it years ago.

”But for sure our job was to play it as close to the original as possible,” he continues. “And some of us felt like great Düsseldorf kids going Krautrock avant garde.”

Performs Songs From The Albums Kraftwerk And Kraftwerk 2 is released on 24 March on Karlrecords, and coincides with both the 20th anniversary of the ensemble, and the 10th anniversary of the label.

Fat Out Fest takes place this April

Fat Out Fest returns for its first edition since 2014 as Islington Mill's lease is renewed

Islington Mill's Fat Out Fest is back for the first time since 2014. This year the organisers promise a weekender that will “blur the boundaries between music, art and partying in true Fat Out style”. The event has been curated in collaboration with various participants including Lisa Meyer of Birmingham's Supersonic Festival, Garth Be from Sweet Sticky in Manchester and Le Guess Who?, and The Wire's Joseph Stannard will be there hosting talks with Moor Mother and Charles Hayward.

The line up so far announced includes Giant Swan, Test Dept: Redux, The Bug Vs Dylan Carlson, Group A, Moor Mother, Sam Weaver, Sly & The Dead Neanderthals featuring Colin Webster, Teeth Of The Sea, Charles Hayward Begin Anywhere, Islam Chipsy & Eek, Part Chimp, Sarathy Korwar and more.

Fat Out Fest will take place 14–16 April at Islington Mill, Salford. Weekend tickets will cost £65 with day ticket cost set at £25.

Islington Mill, the arts space where Fat Out Fest will be held has also announced the renewal of its license following a lengthy battle with the local council. “We are pleased to announce” said Islington Mill on Twitter, ”that after four years, and a lengthy License Review hearing this morning, Islington Mill has been granted a continuation of our premises license, agreeing to a number of new conditions regarding the use of outdoor spaces and how people enter and leave the building.

”We want to thank everyone who supported us by writing letters to Salford City Council – of which there were over 300, an unprecedented number for this type of hearing. Thank you also to everyone who sent messages of support directly to us and who joined us in person at the hearing.”

You can visit the venue's website for details on how you can support the space, which is currently home to over 50 businesses and 100 artists.

David Axelrod has died aged 83

The American composer and producer, sampled by DJ Shadow, J Dilla, Madlib and many more, has died

Born in 1933 in Los Angeles, David Axelrod was an American drummer, producer and composer. He started his musical career in the latter part of the 1950s, producing albums such as jazz musician Harold Land's The Fox. In 1963 he joined Capitol Records working as producer and A&R and in 1968 wrote Mass in F Minor and Release Of An Oath for The Electric Prunes. Around that time, Axelrod started producing solo works, and his first two releases Song Of Innocence (1968) and Songs Of Experience (1969) formed a two-part homage to William Blake. Musician and Wire contributor Kirk Degiorgio, writing in his Hall Of Fame list of his most influential records, described his work as “sparse and moody – heavily reverberated strings mysteriously come and go – and the funky, fatback drumming gives it impetus. Axelrod is one of those great artists who creates music that manages to defy any fixed genre – it straddles rock, classical, jazz and funk.”

As Degiorgio notes, Axelrod's late 60s work was sampled heavily in many hiphop tracks, including by J Dilla, DJ Shadow, Quasimoto, Mos Def and Lil Wayne, who sampled "Holy Thursday" in his track “Mr Carter”. Axelrod's original is below.